Visiting Quepos, Costa Rica

Quepos is a Pacific coast town that’s located in the Puntarenas province, and extends from the Damas river to the Barú river, in the central pacific of Costa Rica. It’s also the name of the county. It’s about the size of a couple dozen city blocks. But don’t be fooled by its size since the amount (and diversity) of adventure, pampering, food and natural beauty that you can find in this town makes this spot the perfect destination for travelers. There is something for everyone in Quepos.

Background & History of Quepos

The name dates from conquest times when the Quepo people, from the Huetar indigenous group, inhabited the area. It was an active place back then, but it was almost forgotten until the early 1900s when banana plantations migrated to the Pacific. By the mid 1930s, and until late 1950s, the United Fruit Company produced and exported large amounts of bananas from the area, bringing electricity, telephones, a port-life, and a lot of people from all over the country (and other countries like Nicaragua, Honduras and El Salvador), turning the area into a melting pot of different cultures and backgrounds.

Today Quepos continues to be a melting pot for Central American cultures and nationalities. Many people have come and stayed, making Quepos an excellent place to enjoy great food! You can find everything from traditional Costa Rican food at the Central Market and small sodas (or dinners) in town, to fine dining and exquisite coffee shops just a few minutes away from town heading towards Manuel Antonio.

In the 1960s, Palm Oil plantations and commercial fishing replaced banana plantations as the main economic focus of the area, and since late 1980s tourism became the most important income for the town of Quepos and the surrounding area.

Getting to Quepos

Quepos is one of the easiest places to get to in Costa Rica. From San José or the airport it should take around 3 hours driving along highway 27 and the Coastal road. Relatively speaking, it is an easy transfer (compared to other areas of Costa Rica) but the best thing is that you will be able to enjoy the amazing change of scenery coming from the highlands of the Central Valley, entering the Pacific rainforest, and then enjoying glimpses of the coast along the second part of the drive.

Getting to Quepos by public transportation (bus) is also very simple and cheap. There are daily buses transporting passengers from downtown San José. While not the most efficient way to travel, these buses are very safe.

If it is efficiency that you are looking for, flying to Quepos is very easy. Based on the amount of time that you save flying, this mode of transportation is often a great value for travelers with limited days to explore. There are two local airlines offering various daily flights to Manuel Antonio and Quepos from the international airport and even Arenal.

Weather in Quepos

The annual average temperature at Quepos is 80°F (27°C), the highest is 88°F (31°C) and lowest of 73°F (23°C). Precipitation is common, since it is located in the rainforest. Between January and March there is less rain, only a couple of days a month. Between September and October, it can rain up to 22 inches a month, which means rain almost every day. But don’t worry, it usually rains in the afternoon and just for a couple of hours. Find more information on weather in Costa Rica and when to visit Costa Rica right here on our website.

Places to Visit in Quepos

As small as it is, Quepos has its charming corners and streets, so you can spend a few hours walking or biking around town. It is always best to travel with a guided group to avoid wandering into any less-desirable areas.

Manuel Antonio National Park

Without a doubt, Manuel Antonio National Park is the main attraction in the Quepos area. It wasn’t until 1949 that a very rustic road was built between Quepos and this natural jewel. Before, people had to access this area by sea. Many years have passed, however, and when you drive this windy narrow road it makes you wonder if you are still in 1949. The many restaurants, hotels and attractions bring you back to our era.

Mangrove Forests

The Damas Island Estuary and Mangrove forest is also a great attraction. The very calm waters of this estuary make it the perfect place to enjoy from a boat, kayak or Stand-Up paddle-board.

Mangrove forests are unique ecosystems which depend on tidal environments receiving daily inputs of water from the ocean and freshwater, sediments, nutrients and silt deposits from upland rivers. The flora of this amazing ecosystem is composed of trees and shrubs that developed morphological adaptations to this tidal environment, such as their aerial roots and capacity to limit their intake of salt (or to excrete that salt through special glands in their leaves).

The mangrove serves as a nursery and home for many different species of fish that use the safe tangled mess of roots of the trees as a place for young fish to mature before going out to sea. Also, the mangrove provides a safe haven for mangrove crabs, shrimp, oysters, and mussels.

The canopy of the mangrove forest hosts many birds and mammals. It is common to see monkeys patrolling the top of the trees, birds nesting on top of the shrubs, and at low tide you can see wading birds scanning the edges of the swampy areas. You may even find crocodiles and caimans sunbathing!

Many private reserves protect sections of the rainforest (and its abundant animal and plant life) in this part of Costa Rica. Take some time to visit these reserves, not only to enjoy a unique and less-crowded walk around the forest, but also to support their mission.

Marina Pez Vela

A place to enjoy good food, high-end shopping, amazing views of mountains and the ocean, and general services for tourist and anglers, the Marina Pez Vela is one of the biggest and nicest marinas in Central America. It has 195 floating concrete slips that can accommodate vessels up to 200 feet. We recommend you to visit the marina in late afternoon light and then enjoy dinner while watching the sunset.

Things to Do in Quepos

When visiting this part of Costa Rica you can be sure there will be an adventure tour that will fit your adrenaline tolerance. You can enjoy the more traditional tours like horseback riding, aerial tram, a catamaran tour, or a dolphin watch boat tour. When it comes to canopy tours or zip lining, there are many different options in the area ranging from a traditional cable between treetops, to a cable that you slide down flying like superman, to more complicated rides that feel like an amusement park attraction…all inside the forest! This are perfect adventures for young families.

White Water Rafting Near Quepos

Perfect for young adults and those who want to experience some adrenaline, two rivers with pristine waters and amazing scenery offer great whitewater rafting very close to Quepos. The Savegre river offers class II and III rapids, and the river Naranjo class III and IV rapids. You can also do some tubing in calmer river waters near Quepos.

Canyoning & Ocean Activities

Adding even more adrenaline to the adventure, there are several canyoning and rappelling tours. If you want to enjoy the ocean, you can go tour around on jet skis, kayaks, or stand-up paddle-boards. Also, snorkeling, sailing and diving tours are offered in Quepos.

Fishing Near Quepos

Being a traditional fishing town, it’s no secret that great sport fishing can be done from Quepos. Many knowledgeable captains can take you out for a day tour and target species like sailfish and roosterfish.

Spas & Relaxation

If you are looking for a more relaxing vacation, arranging a good massage is easy in Quepos. There are many deeply comfortable spas at different hotels, but also private spas that offer all kinds of pampering to any visitor.

Farms in Quepos

An excellent family activity is visiting different farms in Quepos to learn about agriculture and culture. Many travelers choose to take cacao tours or visit spice plantations (like vanilla!).

Quepos Nightlife

If you still have energy by the end of the day, Quepos and Manuel Antonio also offer many bars, discos, and even a couple of casinos…all places where you can enjoy a little bit of nightlife!

Suggested Travel Itineraries

If you’d like to travel through Quepos during your Costa Rica vacation, we suggest either our Costa Rica Collection, Rainforest Escape, Tropical Paradise Honeymoon, or Rainforest-to-Beach itinerary. They all include visits to Manuel Antonio, which is the main attraction in Quepos.

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